The maternal grandson of Jan ‘Velvet’ Brueghel, and the nephew of Jan Brueghel the Younger and David Teniers, Jan van Kessel was more influenced by his grandfather and his uncle than by his apprenticeship with Simon de Vos.
He specialised in painting animals, birds, batrachians and insects, which he especially featured in his paintings of the four elements and the four corners of the world (found in museums in Cambridge, Madrid, Prague and Strasbourg). Additionally, he depicted allegories, fables and painted very small-sized works for cabinet rooms. Jan van Kessel was also one of the century’s most brilliant floral painters. His roses, often pink in colour, or tulips, were finely detailed and arranged in loose bouquets. This subtle attention to detail can be seen in his still lifes of fruits and in the way he depicts objects in his paintings such as dishes, baskets and vases. The charm of his delicately and precisely painted compositions, as well as the bright, strong tones of his colours make Jan van Kessel one of the most endearing and valued Flemish painters.